Post-Conviction Relief (PCR) is a legal process that provides defendants with the opportunity to challenge their conviction or sentence after a trial has ended. The PCR process is available to defendants who have been convicted of a crime and have exhausted all their appeals or did not file an appeal within the allotted time frame.
The goal of this process is to correct any errors that may have occurred during the trial, including constitutional violations, ineffective assistance of counsel, procedural errors, and other grounds.
Ineffective Assistance of Counsel. Ineffective assistance of counsel is a common ground for post-conviction relief. This claim is based on the idea that the defendant's attorney did not provide effective assistance, which resulted in a conviction that would not have otherwise occurred.
New Evidence. New evidence can be presented in a post-conviction hearing if it could not have been discovered at the time of the trial.
Constitutional Violations. Violation of a defendant's constitutional rights during trial could warrant a post-conviction appeal. Examples of constitutional violations include an illegal search and seizure or a coerced confession.
Procedural Errors. If the trial court committed procedural errors that denied the defendant a fair trial, the defendant may be entitled to post-conviction relief. Procedural errors may include issues related to jury selection, jury instructions, or sentencing.
The Post-Conviction Process
Filing a Notice of Appeal. After a conviction, the defendant has limited time to file a notice of appeal. This notice notifies the appellate court that the defendant wishes to appeal the conviction.
Briefing the Case. The next step in the post-conviction process is the briefing of the case. This involves the preparation of written arguments by the defendant and the state, which are submitted to the appellate court.
Oral Argument. After the briefing is complete, the appellate court may schedule an oral argument where both sides can present their case to the court.
Decision by the Appellate Court. After the oral argument, the appellate court will make a decision regarding the post-conviction relief sought by the defendant.